2022: A Year in Books and Movies and Other Things

2022 has been a year of radical change for me. I fell in love again towards the end of 2021, but due to distance I wasn’t sure how it would all play out. In April of this year, Chris moved here partially due to economics and to see if we had something more than my random visits to Texas. Love is challenging at a distance. It is hard to know what is real when every time you are together it is full of longing and excitement. Neither of us had been in a live in relationship in a long time. But if the years of Covid have taught me anything, it is that you can’t put things off for later. There might not be a later. I am so happy he came here. We are complimentary people while at the same time being very different. He is the first man I have trusted in a very long time. He earns it every day.

The last several years I have spent working on myself, learning to love the person I am, and trying to figure out why my life unfolded the way it did. In this research, both in books and in my heart, I have discovered that I have spent a life on the Spectrum. I arrived at the place by understanding that my child is there too and that the late discovery is because their behaviors mirrored my own and I was supposedly “normal.” I read the book “Divergent Mind” by Jenara Nerenberg this year and spent the entire book crying as I saw myself on every page. What a miraculous thing to discover the reason you’ve suffered a lifetime inside a book. A book filled with science. This book gave me the courage to claim my traits, to be able to discuss them and understand how I manage relationships. So many friendships and relationships failed without me understanding why. The reflection is just as priceless as being able to move forward as a whole person without masks and the struggle to be like everyone around me. It has made the end of year more quiet for me. So to my friends out there in the world, I love you more than you can ever know. I’m just digesting life. I haven’t forgotten you.

I became an empty nester this year right around the time Chris moved in and it was more change than I could handle. Anxiety was my constant frenemy, but both Kai and Chirs got me through with soft hands, good hugs, and understanding. I love change. It is where creativity comes from, but large change really fast makes me nuts. So to battle that, I added more change. Seems counter productive, but that nervous energy needed action. Chris and I started painting the interior of the house. The colors are bold and full of life. The rooms are being transformed into the spaces I had always imagined: a bright orange art studio, a sky blue meditation/yoga room, a desert sand guest room with vibrant paintings everywhere, ocean blue hallways, and more to come. It is something spectacular to watch the house of my dreams become a reality.

2022 found me lucky enough to have three books of poetry published: Looking for Wild Things (Impspired), Running Red Lights (Gutter Snob Books), and Layers of Half-Sung Hymns (Cajun Mutt Press). I stretched my art legs this year and have done seven book covers this year. I also was part of my first ever art show called Climate Change: The New Economy 2022 which spoke out about the effects of climate change on nature and society. There was a jury prize offering for those artists that could use upcycled, recycled, and green materials. I worked very hard to meet these demands and gathered much of my supplies from the banks of the river. I was utterly surprised when I won first place. I was finally, at age forty-nine, both a paid writer and a paid artist.

The first of year always starts with a hike for me and 2022 was the year I was determined to get a Finger Lakes Trail badge for completing fifty miles of trail. This year was the 60th anniversary so we had to hike sixty miles, but they were kind and gave us the first three months to gather miles anywhere outside. In April, Chris joined me on most of my hikes and he was there when I completed my 60 miles for the year just after Thanksgiving. He keeps me moving when I think I can’t find anymore strength in the uphills and always keeps me laughing. I am so happy to have earned this badge with his help and next year, we earn one together. We hope to complete the entire Crystal Hills Trail map as well as the M12. Maybe we will have enough in us to start a new map.

I set a goal to read/listen to 50 books this year, but hot damn, I read 71. Here are the goods:


The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (January)
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (January)
The Care of Strangers by Ellen Michaelson (February)
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune (February)
Jakarta by Rodrigo Marquez Tizano (March)
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet (May)
A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion (October)
The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall (December)


Untamed by Glennon Doyle (January)
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (April)
Divergent Mind by Jenara Nerenberg (October)
Homegrown Berries by Timber Press (November)
Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile (December)

Fiction (Audiobook)

Memorial by Bryan Washington (January)
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (January)
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (February)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (March)
Send for Me by Lauren Fox (March)
Actress by Anne Enright (April)
Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens (May)
Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin (June)
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (June)
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (June)
The Guide by Peter Heller (July)
Ways the World Could End by Kim Hooper (August)
On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass (August)
Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh (September)
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (October)
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima (October)
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (December)

Non-Fiction (Audiobook)

A Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (January)
Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald (February)
Wow, No thank you by Samantha Irby (February)
Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins (February)
Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan Slaght (March)
Music is History by Questlove (April)
Feminism is for Everybody by Bell Hooks (May)
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut (May)
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walkers PhD (July)
The Secret History of Food by Matt Siegel (July)
The Selected Works of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde (September)
Never Simple by Liz Scheier (October)
Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino (December)
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (December)


Noise by Misti Rainwater-Lites (January)
All Around Cowboy by Scot D. Young (January)
Kinky by Denise Duhamel (February)
Space Time Continuum for Dummies by Michele McDannold (February)
The Gypsy Ballads of Garcia Lorca by Garcia Lorca (February)
Marilyn by Kerry Trautman (March)
No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay (March)
Views of Jeopardy by Jack Gilbert (March)
Something Like Forgiveness by Rebecca Schumedja (March)
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker (March)
Confined Spaces by Cord Moreski (April)
These Hands of Myrrh by Scott Ferry (April)
Medicine for Busted Hearts by Dan Denton (April)
Raven Songs by Meg Macleod (April)
PostColonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (audiobook) (April)
Frida & Vincent by Catfish McDaris (April)
Sundown at the Redneck Carnival by John Dorsey (April)
Prying by Micheline, Bukowski, McDaris (April)
Dear So and So by Rusty Barnes (May)
By Plane, Train, or Coincidence by Michele McDannold (June)
You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson (June)
Proper Etiquette in the Slaughterhouse Line by James Duncan (June)
I am the rage by Martina McGowan (July)
Evidence by Catherine Harnett Shaw (August)
As Meaningful As Any Other by Donna Snyder (September)
Crow Funeral by Kate Hanson Foster (September)
Felicity by Mary Oliver (September)
Radioactive Starlings by Myronn Hardy (November)

When the summer got too hot to be out of air conditioning and way to deadly for me to be in the sun, Chris and I started watching Oscar winning films for Best Picture. It started out as a joke, sort of, but became an obsession. Mine more than his, but the journey has been wonderful. There were films I hadn’t seen in decades and films I had forgotten. It was different to watch them under the lens of having won the biggest prize for film and to talk about why or why not it seemed worth the win. Plus, snuggling under blankets in the winter is pretty darn awesome. Here is the list we made it through so far:

8/27/22: Nomadland (2021), The Hurt Locker (2010)

8/28/22: Argo (2013)

8/30/22: The Departed (2007)

8/31/22: Parasite (2020), Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

9/1/22: The Silence of the Lambs (1992)

9/5/22: Gladiator (2001)

9/6/22: Annie Hall (1978)

9/7/22: All Quiet On the Western Front (1931)

9/11/22: The Godfather (1973), The Godfather II (1975)

9/15/22: Birdman (2015)

9/27/22: Around the World in 80 Days (1957)

9/28/22: The Shape of Water (2018)

9/29/22: Spotlight (2016)

10/9/22: Green Book (2019), The King’s Speech (2011)

10/11/22: Midnight Cowboy (1970)

10/12/22: Terms of Endearment (1984)

10/13/22: Amadeus (1985)

10/17/22: Rain Man (1989)

10/31/22: American Beauty (2000)

11/2/22: Crash (2006)

11/3/22: A Beautiful Mind (2002)

11/4/22: Shakespeare in Love (1999)

11/10/22: Kramer vs Kramer (1980)

11/12/22: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976)

11/14/22: Dances with Wolves (1991)

11/15/22: From Here to Eternity (1954)

11/18/22: Casablanca (1944)

11/19/22: On the Waterfront (1955)

11/20/22: Out of Africa (1986)

11/23/22: Forrest Gump (1995)

11/29/22: Chariots of Fire (1982)

12/6/22: Patton (1971)

12/12/22: The Apartment (1961)

12/13/22: The French Connection (1972). The Lord of the Rings (2004)

12/14/22: Ordinary People (1981), The English Patient (1997)

12/20/22: The Greatest Show on Earth (1953)

12/21/22: Platoon (1987)

12/26/22: Titanic (1998)

12/28/22: Cimarron (1932)

This year was full of love from family and friends. It was a year of letting go, discovery, and patience. I hope all of you have found the things to be grateful for this year. The world feels like an unhinged place these days, a dystopian movie in real time, but there is still love and books and good times. Be an explorer. Do all the things you never thought you could. Be kind to each other.



Writing: Enjoy the Journey

It has been a long time since I posted and though I often vow to keep up with this website, it does run away from me. Life has been happening. Lots of life. I had been in a long distance relationship for a year and I have been in this situation before on many occasions, but this one was different. The love was there for sure, but the reality of it ever being the sort of traditional relationship society covets was way off the mark. There were too many factors working against us.

I have always been the type to want to be friends when a relationship has ended, because for me to fall in love, there had to be a friendship first. I believe sometimes people can mistake that feeling of deep friendship for relationship/romantic love. A deep connection with another person can give you the feels. After an anniversary trip to Virginia which was fifty-fifty on its good and bad parts, I ended the romantic relationship. It was a hard decision, but we were both miserable in the place the relationship had gone, and I knew he would never cut the rope.

This ending proved to give us a new beginning. We still love each other and the desire to go out into the world and adventure never left us. Traditional relationships are not for everyone and the push to have something like that is hard to ignore especially if you are surrounded by people who buy into those ideas. There is nothing wrong with finding the person you love, getting married, and living out your lives together. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing. For me, the closed ended commitment feels like a millstone, a suffocation, a resentment. Who wants that?

My life has been full of traumas both big and small. It makes me hard to live with and a bit feral when pushed in the corner to conform. I’m not radical person, but I like the freedom to move about in my own world without the permission of someone else, or having to expressly curtail what my heart desires. I did that for my whole life. This last leg of my years I want to enjoy the journey.

He and I have planned adventures for the rest of the year in places neither of us have ever been. There will be hiking and disc golf, exploring towns and events, and acting like carefree children. Neither of us had a childhood that anyone wants to hear about and this is a chance for us to regain that time and enjoy what nature has to offer.

On a writing front, I have not been submitting much poetry but I have been writing it. I have been reading books, editing my novel, loving my cats, spending time with my kid, playing disc golf, and working at the hospital. In July, I am going on a 20 mile, 2 night hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. It is something I’ve never done before but have always wanted to do. This will be a challenge of letting things go and accepting what my body can or cannot do. I am here to dive into the present moment. I am here to live with a sense of freedom and wonder. In these times where Covid has taken so much from us, I am taking something back.

I hope to submit more work so I can tell you about it if it gets published. Thanks for sticking with me even through the quiet times. Be kind to each other. Stay safe. Write often.

Collaboration: Poetry and Art

It’s no big surprise that my pace for posting has slowed down because in the last few months I’ve had the incredible opportunity to fall in love. Gasp. I know. I had written it off, to be honest. So many failed attempts made it harder to see hope. The interesting thing is that I wasn’t looking for love. I had gotten right with myself about being alone for the rest of my life. I figured if my grandmother could do it, so could I. She was one of the strongest, kindest ladies I ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving.

In a previous post back in April, I am sure I mentioned that I was doing something new for poetry month. I collaborated with another poet by using their overall theme and then their daily prompts. It took me exactly 27 days to fall in love with him. Romantic and silly, right? That about sums me up, anyway. When the month of poetry was over, we decided that we weren’t ready to let go.

Each day has been an adventure. We write poems separately now and I continue to work on both of my novels. We inspire each other to write better, to reach farther, to try new avenues. This is the best part of collaboration. Along with all of this, we have taken to writing each other love letters which we send the old-fashioned way through the mail.

This spawned a poem by him about a 4th century Prince and Princess. He asked me to write the second part of this series. It was a bit of a reach for me, but I did it. As something special, I had sewn, quilted, and beaded a piece to go with the poem. His work inspired my work. I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Here is my poem in the series:

Amor Aeternus, PT. 2

The season pass so slowly
it hurts to breathe
as I sit by the window
waiting for my prince to return.

The memory of his gentle fingertips
trailing the edge of my cheek,
the way his eyes pleaded forgiveness
as he left the castle, haunts me still.

At night, sleep eludes me, calls up my ghosts
as I walk the cold stones to the tower.
I call out to the moon, tracing the sky
and it’s barely visible constellations.

With the sunrise on my face
I yawn like a cat soaking in the rays.
We share seemingly different worlds
and I pretend the warmth of his body covers mine.

The strength in his eyes carries me through
the days, follow me in every shadow.
The damp fog raises the imprint
of his kisses upon my neck.

I’m filled with longing, a deep impatience
though there is nothing to be done.
There is no salve to cure my heart,
no way to close the distance.

The kingdom grows restless in his absence
as they look to me for guidance.
My leadership half-hearted 
and I feel the wolves closing in.

I stare at the horizon for his hopeful return,
the chair an uncomfortable punishment
as I stitch another patchwork with nimble hands.
They automatically flesh our hearts into the fabric.

Oh eternal love, come back to me,
I whisper into the wind, hopeful
my words will find his ear
and bring his safe return.

Aleathia Drehmer 2020

Poem: Any of It

I’ve come to realize that at 46, I have spent a lifetime chasing the idea of love. It’s an abstract concept that most have a hard time holding in their hand long enough to understand. The feeling, when it’s true, might have you huddled in the corner whispering “my precious.”

Love is something we want to keep, but can’t name or map or diagram out to know when it is true. Like many people, I have spent the aforementioned lifetime with a conglomerate definition of love that comes from society, movies, books, and learned environment.

The concept is often too heavy for a person to consider individually. This would mean each of us would have to stand before the mirror and not be ashamed of what looks back at us. What happens when all those areas I have gleaned a definition of love from are broken?

The last three years have been a journey to love myself. I have started this late in life, but with a good set of tools: experience, knowledge, friendship. The journey will continue as my years tack on, but right now, in the strangest of times, I have found my definition of love.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

Any of It

Sometimes I want to write
a poem where our breath
meets as it dances over
our lips and tongue.

I’d forgotten
what it felt like
to be loved

to know the weight
of an arm across
my chest, 

the wet warmth
of velvet kisses, 

The way laughter pulls 
two souls together,
or the surprise of existence
the morning sun brings,

Or how a hand slides
into another, grounding
the world into reality,

the quiet closeness in awe
of a sunset, fingers tangled
in the soft waves of my hair.

These were all dreams I once had,
the sweet rambles of sleep
and rearranged heartbeats, 
soft delirium easily trapped 
in the dark minutes before midnight.

Flash Fiction: Apartment 22

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer, Chicago, IL.

Jorge climbed the stairs of the tenement apartment building whose walls were as thin as whispers. He heard snippets of each family’s life as he ascended. His feet bowed the worn wood making them groan and creak.The dark hallways were scattered with mouse droppings and smelled of decay. Garbage cluttered the corners, broken toys scattered across the dirty floors like orphans.

The death of sounds was common here. No one cared where they went or who made them unless it disturbed their sleeping habits. It wasn’t unusual to eat lunch with gunfire or hang the clothes in the apartment to dry, listening to the sound of fists contacting a face. 

He lamented the fact that life took away their compassion and left them numb to the atrocities in their own backyards. But this place was what he could afford on his meager pension from the mill.  He couldn’t do better than this. It gave him pause, his head hanging for a moment.

On the fourth floor, he stopped. From apartment 22 came a noise he wasn’t accustomed to hearing. It drew him closer to the door with its peeling burgundy paint and lopsided, black metal numbers. 

It was music.  

Tender and passionate, he hovered at the door, fingers just grazing the paint. The space around his body filled with his own excited warmth. He leaned in with his ear pressed to the jamb forgetting about the building’s filth, forgetting many would sooner shoot you than look at you if you came close to their doors. He couldn’t draw away… not yet.

Jorge held his breath to not miss a sound. His entire body set afired right there in the dirty hallway. His cock twinged between his legs the louder the music got. For the first time in years, he felt like a man. Jorge wandered through thoughts of his youth and the nights spent with women clutched in his arms. How he’d slide into them deep, enjoying the musk of their bodies. Their mouths betraying the music of their sex.

Notes escaped from the cracks around the door spilling into the stale, heavy air. They were sweet melodic effluvia that danced in the air, kissing his face, and Jorge knew at once it was a woodwind. He listened carefully as the woman, yes….he was sure it was a woman playing, blew into the instrument. 

A flute.

He imagined the delicious pout of her lips pursed over the curved hole. The deftness of her fingers flew over the padded keys pressing them into the silver body. As she covered the holes the air stretched into music. Jorge heard the sole of her show tapping the hardwood, imagined her graceful neck and slender fingers. 

Jorge closed his eyes and drank her in imagining the swell of her breasts as she inhaled to put strength behind the notes. He wanted to run his hand up her knee while she played a melody for him and watch her body stiffen at his touch.

His body betrayed him. His face flushed. Jorge’s body trembled and he was hard as stone, standing like a lecherous old man at a young girl’s door. The landlord lumbered up the stairs and his heart froze.

She was drunk and Jorge smelled the stale alcohol pouring from her skin from where she stood at the top of the stairs. Her body swayed and she held herself steady with the railing. The look in her eye devious as a vultures.

“What the hell are you doing over  there?” she slurred.

“Nothing…eh…nothing ma’am,” Jorge said, looking away.

“By the looks of the party in your pants, it doesn’t look like nothing, Jorge. You’re a dirty old man leaning against the door, huddled in the corner stroking yourself like a peeping Tom.” The landlord scolded, “I should kick you out, or better yet post  your sad face in the lobby as a pervert. But you pay on time so I’ll just remember this. You will owe me.”

Something in the way she looked at Jorge made his stomach sick. He wanted nothing to do with being under her thumb or any other part of her body.

“I’m going now, up to my apartment. Sorry. I meant nothing. The music put me in a trance.” Jorge tried to explain, but the landlord just looked at his pants with a grin of a wolf.   

She licked her lips and smiled, showing her poorly kept teeth. Another wave of her pickled insides came toward him as she spoke. He held back the vomit in his throat. Jorge looked down to see the pleats of his trousers tented like the pants of an adolescent, a wet spot forming there like a lewd death for everyone to see.

Jorge’s excitement faded and wished his cock would shrivel back into its cotton grave. He wanted nothing to do with this weak excuse for a woman and her wasted life. He wanted the dove behind the door, wanted to kiss her skin and please her….take her from this wretched place. But he said nothing more as he looked at the door again.

He hung his head as he walked past the landlord avoiding her intentions. Now he would never know the beauty behind the door. Reluctant, Jorge left the woman of his dreams with her music, her body of grace, her answer to the reawakening of his heart, and trudged past more death, to his own.

What This Pandemic Has Taught Me About Life and Writing

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

This new website was created to be less about personal life and more about a writer’s life. But yesterday I realized that these cannot be separated. Not if you are doing it right. Yesterday I was able to participate in a workshop put on by Shuffle Collective during their Weekend of Words. This has been a free event of poetry and writing. It is something to connect us in this time when we all feel physically and mentally disconnected from our surroundings. Allie Rigby spoke about writing from a sense of place, from the environment that you belong in, and it started me thinking (more than I had already been).

This pandemic has affected me in more positive ways than negative, and I consider myself lucky. It has taken out all the busyness of my life and pared it down to what matters the most. There has been time to start a new job, to complete projects, and to finish my novel. I have had the opportunity to get closer to my child in a meaningful, more adult way. This mother’s day I was treated to an insightful letter from my eighteen year old. I’m amazed at how far they have come in the world.

In this time, I have become closer with my two good girlfriends. This has always been a challenge for me. Women have continually stabbed me in the back my whole life. But these women have given me pause. They accept me with my array of faults and eccentric behaviors. They don’t mind that I’m a forgetful hummingbird most of the time. They lift me up when I can’t see myself in the mirror and let me know that the warped image I might see is not real.

For poetry month, I did something different. I jumped on an acquaintance’s prompt train because I was determined not to write a month of death poems for my mother. Not this year. Not ever again. He has always been a poet that I admired and one that I published when I was in that capacity years ago. Every night for a month, we wrote poems as a call and response. I had never done this before. I had always gotten a prompt and had to dig up, sometimes painfully, a poem that I only 40% liked.

This was different. Everyday, I collected random lines from the world. Things from nature or memories that floated into my head. The worries about pandemic and fragile loved ones. The grief of losing a way of life I didn’t realize I had established. At the end of the night, I would take his prompt and construct a poem from what I collected. It was an organic feeling. It was beautiful. What a gift to be able to see something new about yourself and your craft. I’m forever grateful to him for this. Along the way, we found a friendship too that is more deep and centered than I might have expected. 

I’m not sure I have ever felt more whole in my entire life. All the years of grief and death. All the losses and terrible endings. All that suffering feels washed away with spring rain. This pandemic will change us all. Some in good ways and others not so much, but I think perspective means everything. This is a time when nature and universe has given every living being the opportunity to look inside themselves and see what they are made of. You owe it to yourself to do this instead of grasping at what was or what should have been.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women I know who are loving their kids, other people’s kids, fur babies, and lifting other mothers with their compassion. It’s a great day to be alive.

Book Review: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

“The Rules of Magic” by Alice Hoffman is above all else, a book about love.

Sure there are witches and magic and a bit of history. But the primary thread is love. The story is about a family of witches with the surname Owens. In the 1600s, their ancestor Maria Owens was killed and there was a curse placed on all the women of the family to lose the one they fell in love with. In the lineage, only women Owens are born until there is one son, Vincent.

Vincent, Frances, and Bridget are all siblings living in New York City in the 1960s. Their lineage as witches has been kept from them by their cautious mother Susanna who knew all too well of the pain of the curse against love. The children know they are different, but they don’t know how different until they go to Massachusetts for the summer of Francis’ seventeenth birthday. It is here in the family home paid for by Maria Owens in the 1600s do they find out about their gifts.

Their Aunt Isabelle gives them free reign to find themselves, to be children, and discover what they are made of. She teaches them spells, but moreover she loves them exactly as they are without trying to change them as their mother does. This home on Magnolia Street becomes a place they return to again and again.

“Don’t live a little, live a lot,” reminds Aunt Isabelle.

Each of the children struggle with their gifts and what they mean. They each do their best to stave off falling in love, afraid of the curse, but none of them can resist. I don’t want to go into any more detail about “The Rules of Magic” because I want you to experience the rich language filled with sensory description and heartbreaking tenderness of growing up a witch in the height of the 60s with war looming over them all. It is a book that covers family, love, individuality, strength of character, and perseverance.

What I will leave you with is my favorite quote which is something that I needed to be reminded of:

“The only remedy for love is to love more.”

Poem: We Crave the Pain

We Crave the Pain

Love is an unfinished
work of art crafted
by patience, fear,
faith in the unknown,
buttressed with
a healthy dose
of melancholy.

It should be enough
to make men run
at the complexity
of feeling, wrapped
in the changes
the light makes
as it moves across the sky.

But we crave the pain
love provides as it is birthed
from our senses and left limp
lying tender on our skin
like all our faulty steps
toward imagined freedom.

Aleathia Drehmer 2020